We chat to Liz all about her beautiful, handmade gemstone jewellery! Liz shares more about her creative background of textiles and oil painting, which then led her to begin her journey in jewellery making. We find out more about Liz's experience of building and growing her business online, through the use of Etsy and social media. Sharing top tips for learning new techniques and how to market your designs. Not only that, we hear about Liz's top Kernowcraft picks - we are always thrilled to see her designs using our stones and supplies.
I’ve always been happiest in a creative environment and running my own handcrafted jewellery business is the perfect direction this could have taken.
My creative journey began several years ago when I was living and working in Barcelona and where I studied the Catalan style of figurative textile art. This was followed by a brief spell working as a textile artist in my own studio in Devon where I gave workshops, undertook commissions and sold to the public.
I then moved into painting in oils, which is something I’d wanted to do for ages. Commissions and sales at art fairs and galleries in the UK soon followed and I now have work with a local gallery which is where I also have a selection of my jewellery.
Barcelona and the Mediterranean are very definitely present in my choice of colour palette both in my art and in my jewellery.
I’m drawn to the rich, bold colours you get there thanks to the incredible sunlight, how this reflects on water creating beautiful reflections and sparkles which I use as themes in a lot of my artwork.
I’m sure that these influences also had a hand in my choice of gemstones, such as lapis lazuli, amber and garnet, and my floating necklaces containing these stones and beautiful silver components blend these influences together into a piece of jewellery.
For me, moving into jewellery-making was an exciting and logical next stage on my creative journey. It’s one I’m having so much fun with as it means I can explore my artistic roots further, develop my love of colour, light and reflections and dig deeper into my designs using some stunning gemstones.
It was while I was making my first pieces that I began researching how to sell handmade jewellery online and in shops and galleries and realised that this was what I had to do with my life. I just had to get my work out there in front of people. So, having sketched out some ideas for my business, and after some great reactions from my husband Chris and my family and friends, I decided to go for it and start my handcrafted jewellery business.
I research as much as I can whether that’s through online tutorials, jewellery-making books or experimenting with a technique to see if it’s one I think would work for me and my product range. I tend to start by sketching out an idea, laying the components out on my beading mat, measuring for accuracy, experimenting with different stones to get the best design, match of colours and of components and then work out how to attach the various gemstones and findings.
I’m drawn to organic, irregular-shaped beads, such as the amber, lapis lazuli and garnet I use in my floating necklaces. I love the fact that each bead has its own personality and this makes each necklace unique, while also part of a particular style. Having said this, I’m really intrigued by faceted briolettes like the aquamarine I use in my single briolette necklace. This stone is a beautiful calming colour and it’s exciting to see each tiny facet as it catches the light.
Necklaces! I love making necklaces. And ones that sit just on the collarbone really do it for me, although an elegant freshwater pearl drop on a chain adds that touch of elegance to any outfit. Earrings are also a passion of mine and I could very happily sit at my bench all day making them. Again, it’s that elegant, fine, classic look that works for me every time, which is why I use a minimum of components in my designs.
I’d say that my most popular design would probably be my gemstone and silver floating necklace. I think it’s the combination of the stones paired with the silver tubes and tiny silver rondelle beads that give it its attraction and the fact that it’s an elegant minimalist design also appeals to people. However, and I know I’m really only allowed one, but I’m also in love with my blue freshwater pearl drop necklace and earrings. The lustre on the pearls is so beautiful, so I’ve got to include this design as well!
Patience! Patience for the time it takes to build up your jewellery business, patience for learning your craft and the skills you need to do this and patience with yourself, you have to give yourself time to grow as a jeweller.
I use a lot of amber in my jewellery, as I’m immediately drawn to its colour, the inclusions inside each piece and the fact that it shines like sunlight. Amber also connects me back through my family to my grandparents and my dad and I now have my grandmother’s amber jewellery, so I’m connected to all of them always. Lapis lazuli is another of my favourite gemstones as it reminds me of the rich blue Mediterranean and takes me back to the time I lived in Barcelona. Garnet is a recent discovery of mine since starting my jewellery business. I love its deep, rich red which pairs so beautifully with silver and creates some incredible designs.
From day one I’ve found the jewellery-making community to be supportive, generous and kind. I’ve learnt a lot from other jewellers, from photography skills to learning the business ropes and even how to create an Instagram Story and add squiggles to it! Seriously though, if you have any type of question, there’s always someone in the community who will help you. There are lots of groups you can join, where you can post questions, share experiences and make friends and it’s a great way to learn more about the craft.
It’s a good online platform if you’re new to selling your work this way. I chose it as the start-up costs were minimal and I could, just about, understand the tech! Etsy has a handbook available to all sellers and there’s always plenty of help and advice from other sellers and makers on the various forums. If you’re considering setting up an Etsy shop, research your market beforehand to make sure your prices are competitive and you know how the platform works. Also, make sure that your jewellery photos are clear, well-lit and you have good close-ups of your pieces. Write clear, full product titles and descriptions and use as many key words as you can so you’ll come up in SEO searches.
I’d say, just go for it! Research what style, type of jewellery you want to make and use the Internet and jewellery suppliers for information. There are so many places you’ll find help and inspiration. Look at other jewellers to see what they make and how they make it. It’s so important to decide what sings to you as this will come through in your designs.
Look at the Kernowcraft website, they have loads of great tips and advice on all things jewellery from jewellery-making tutorials, photographing your work, to pricing and trends, not to mention the gemstones!
Also take a look at Jewellers Academy with Jessica Rose, as she has lots of good jewellery skills and business tutorials and YouTube has lots to offer as well. Read as much as you can about the business side of jewellery-making, how much of a start-up budget you’ll need and how to open a business bank account.
And one final thing, know exactly what financial and legal obligations you need to have in place before you start, such as jewellers insurance and GDPR compliance if you’re going to have an online shop. Also, make sure your product descriptions are accurate and take stunning photos of your work!
I have a small room upstairs at the front of the house facing west, so when we have sunny summer evenings the whole room is flooded with light.
My bench is in fact a dining table and it’s had a varied life as an office desk, storage for my paintings and now it’s my jeweller’s bench. One half of it doubles as my office where I do all the admin for my jewellery business and it’s where I keep a space for that all-important cup of coffee.
The other half is my jewellery-making area, where I have my gemstone storage tower, my beading mat, an old blue mug with my pliers in and next to this my lightbox which I use for most of my photography.
Tucked away on a book in the lightbox are my photography props, which include sea-worn oyster shells, smaller seashells and smooth pebbles.
I love how visual it is, so photographs have to be the very best quality. I also love the immediacy of Instagram and the fact that it’s an easy platform to use. It’s straightforward to connect with others and you can build up relationships very quickly.
The fact that the Stories feature is fast-moving and you can post between 5 and 10 stories a day helps create connections quickly with others and gives you the space to share more and different things about yourself. Stories is where the focus is shifting to now with people posting more frequently in this space, it’s less curated than grid posts and you can post behind-the-scenes in your business. You can vary how often you post on your grid, from every day to 3 or 5 times a week and the longer your post, the longer people will spend on your account, the more engagements you’ll get and, eventually, more followers.
Using hashtags in your business posts is a really effective way to connect with like-minded people and grow your business, meet potential customers and network. Instagram is a social media platform, so it goes without saying, be social and interact with people: it’s fun, it’ll get your work in front of people and help your business grow.
Instagram is such a visual medium it makes it the perfect place to show off your jewellery. The fact that you can choose where and how to share your work on Instagram makes it a very versatile platform through grid posts, Stories, IGTV videos and Lives on Stories. Once you get the hang of how things work, such as how to use hashtags and tagging people, you can reach such a wide audience. I’m still learning how to use it to its full potential for my business and really enjoying the journey.
Kernowcraft has an amazing product range for all different styles of jewellery and a great price range to match. The gemstones are always top quality and responsibly sourced and each stone is accompanied by an in-depth product description, a photo showing scale of each gemstone and some descriptions also have a video which provides great jewellery-making ideas. The layout of the Kernowcraft website was an important factor for me when I was starting out looking for gemstones and findings. Everything is very clearly set out and you can find what you’re looking for really easily. Kernowcraft’s customer service is amazing, everyone there is so friendly and helpful, delivery is really quick and my orders are always very carefully packaged.
The Flexrite silver-plated jewellery wire. It’s an integral part of my gemstone and silver floating necklaces and it’s a statement piece in its own right. Flexrite jewellery wire is incredibly strong, delicate and so easy to use.
The crimps with loop have transformed how I make my floating necklaces and life’s so much easier with them! They too are an essential part of this necklace design and I couldn’t be without them.
My third product is faceted heart briolettes: they’re so beautiful and Kernowcraft’s colour range of these gemstones is delicious. I use the aquamarine briolette in one of my necklaces, as it reminds me of the sea where the waves come rushing into the shoreline.